A recent article I read posits that the “end of life” is another stage of life like adolescence, young adulthood, midlife, etc. As such, people should be thinking about how they want to live during that stage of life, not just how they want to die. Depending on your circumstances, the time between becoming seriously ill and dying can last for many years so you should consider ways to make that period as comfortable as possible for you and your loved ones. That requires planning and discussion with your family or others who may be helping you. These are some of the issues to address as part of that process:
- Caregiving. There are a wide range of services you may need at some point ranging from help with cleaning to full-time home healthcare. Do you have family or friends who can assist you or will you need to hire someone or move into a facility? What resources do you have to pay for care?
- Quality of life/medical treatment. I advocate for being a ”pro-choice senior” who takes control of healthcare decisions. You may have different expectations or goals for your treatment then your doctor or family members. You should discuss quality of life issues with your physician and loved ones to ensure you get the care you want.
- Finances. An illness may mean more expenses and less income. As soon as possible, you should assess your financial condition and resources as well as explore governmental, insurance or other benefits to help pay your bills. You should also consult an attorney about opportunities for Medicaid planning or other strategies to protect assets. In addition, you must determine who will manage your finances during your illness. As discussed further below, speak with an attorney to get the appropriate legal documents in place.
- Legal matters. There are several essential documents that should be prepared and/or reviewed to protect you and your family. This includes a will, living will, health care proxy, and power of attorney. In addition, it is important to review your beneficiary designations, such as those in life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
- Information sharing. You should discuss financial and legal information with trusted individuals. For example, make sure someone knows where to find pertinent documents, like your will, list of assets and debts, tax returns, deed, and other records. Also, spend time with the person who will be handling your affairs during your illness and after you are gone to show them what they need to know and who they can turn to for help, such as a legal or financial advisor. This is important especially if this person has little experience with these matters.
- Funeral arrangements. Rather than leaving this to your loved ones, it is helpful to provide instructions about your wishes for funeral arrangements.
No one likes to think about death but planning for the last stage of your life means minimizing some of the stress for you and your loved ones.
We can’t prevent death, but we can take control of our lives and be PRO-CHOICE SENIORS.
Contact me to get started.